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Author Topic: Open Dialogue: Religions and the Basis for Faith  (Read 1536 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: July 09, 2016, 08:16:45 PM »

With sectarian violence now getting out of hand in many parts of the world, I think the time has come for us to objectively confront the basis of our respective religious beliefs.

Let’s start with these three fundamental questions: Why were the founders or prophets of major religions practically all lone-wolf operators? Were their visions and trysts with their deity ever independently validated? How and by what means did they take hold as articles of faith in the minds of believers?

Let’s start an open and running dialogue on this issue that, as you know very well, greatly affects our personal and national lives. Tell us what you think as objectively and dispassionately as possible—and in English, of course, to reach the widest worldwide audience. Please keep every post within 50-500 words and avoid proselytizing to keep this particular forum manageable.

Start posting your views now.

« Last Edit: July 09, 2016, 10:56:28 PM by Joe Carillo » Logged

Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2016, 12:42:15 PM »

Why were the founders or prophets of major religions practically all lone-wolf operators?

I speak for Catholic Christianity, which I regard as the only true religion, though I concede that others may be approximations to the truth to varying degrees. Jesus of Nazareth loved company, so in that sense He was not a lone wolf. However, He did upset the established order of things, and with good reason. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).” The prophets who preceded Jesus were likewise in the minority, because man’s reasoning left to itself will always fall short. Grace is supreme, and without God’s help we perish. Today’s received wisdom regards truth as welling up from below, and that there is protection in numbers. The lone wolf therefore stands against the crowd because grace knows not numbers, but only fidelity to God who reveals the truth to man from above.

Were their visions and trysts with their deity ever independently validated? How and by what means did they take hold as articles of faith in the minds of believers?

Christianity is a supernatural religion, and therefore relies on miracles rather than human wisdom or power to testify that God is truthful when he revealed Himself through Jesus Christ. The Shroud of Turin, the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, the incorruptible bodies of St. Bernadette Soubirous and other saints, the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima that was witnessed by 70,000 and reported in the secular press of Portugal, all these and many others throughout the centuries ratify the truth of God’s revelation through the Catholic Church.
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Hopeful_Believer
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2016, 08:53:36 AM »

Interesting. So that's how Catholic Christianity came to be.

I've read that another religion is based on their Almighty's tenets dictated word-for-word to their long-ago prophet by an angel through a dream. Isn't this some sort of lone-wolf operation without witnesses at all? I might be wrong, but now it looks like this religion has become a part of an ideology that espouses mass killings of people. What's the rationale and logic behind this form of extreme cruelty? Shouldn't a religion be about celebrating life instead of annihilating it? I sincerely want to know and understand.
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Joe Carillo
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2016, 08:49:29 AM »

No one else has thoughts to share on this very crucial issue?
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Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 10:28:15 AM »

Here is a reflection I just gave at my parish entitled "Counseling the Ignorant," which is relevant to the topic at hand:

Instructing the ignorant and counseling the doubtful are two of the seven spiritual (as opposed to corporal) works of mercy. They are important pillars upholding the sanctity of life, especially in the face of the culture of death that has allowed lifestyles in direct contradiction to the norms of the gospel to become the de facto standard of morality. Sadly, contemporary Catholic religious education is an insufficient bulwark against moral relativism, the philosophy that there are no absolutes, that your truth is different from my truth. As a result, faith and spirituality based on God’s revelation are now largely confined to the individual sphere, separate from public life.

THE CHRISTIAN MARTYRS OF NAGASAKI. 17TH-CENTURY JAPANESE PAINTING

The clash between Christian faith and relativism is illustrated by Martin Scorsese’s newly released film, Silence, about the brutal persecutions of Catholics in Japan during the seventeenth century. In this film, Fr. Rodrigues, one of two Portuguese Jesuits sent to find their mentor who was rumored to have apostatized, is forced to deny the Faith in order to save others from crucifixion and other severe tortures. The Japanese persecutors in the film essentially represent the worldview of today’s relativists who ridicule the uncompromising certainty of believers willing to sacrifice everything for the truth. Despite its disappointing ending, I was deeply moved by Scorsese’s film. My gut reactions were aided by a remote personal connection; my Filipino maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Ruiz. Among the martyrs at Nagasaki in 1637 was the first Filipino canonized saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, who had been part of a missionary expedition led by Dominican friars. When asked to deny his faith so that his life would be spared, Lorenzo Ruiz replied, “I will never do it. I am a Catholic and happy to die for God. If I have a thousand lives to offer, I will offer them to God.” He was then hung by his feet over a pit with his temple slit open. After two days of agony, he died of bleeding and suffocation.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz died giving witness to a faith that the Japanese of the Tokugawa Period regarded as a threat to the integrity of their national culture. In the movie, Silence, there is a scene in which the Japanese inquisitor says to the captured priest, Fr. Rodrigues, “Your religion may be true in Spain and Portugal, but it is not true here in Japan.” Fr. Rodrigues answered, “If our religion is not also true in Japan, then it cannot be true at all, since the truth is the same everywhere!” Therein lies the rub. Almost 400 years after the martyrs of Japan gave their lives in fidelity to the gospel, we have abandoned the catholicity of our Faith and its universal claims in favor of so-called “diversity” and “inclusion.”

Even sex itself has been relativized. The disorder that began in the Garden of Eden, symbolized by Adam and Eve’s eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (which in Hebrew double entendre served as a sexual metaphor), has metastasized in our day not only to the murder of the child in the womb, but even to the debasement of human gender and the very concept of the family. We have thus been beguiled by the devil to become our own gods, and to “call evil good and good evil,” as stated in Isaiah 5:20. This is the substance of anti-Christianity, which is no less than the rebellion of setting up a rival good apart from God in imitation of Lucifer, whom Saul Alinsky described in his book, Rules for Radicals, as “the first radical known to man.” Justice Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court notoriously wrote in defense of abortion, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

It is not that Catholicism cannot co-exist with diversity; far from it! While all Catholics must acknowledge the same essential truths of the Faith, their experiences and expressions of the Faith may differ, because Truth is ultimately not a mere abstraction, but the Infinite Person of God Who begets an inexhaustible treasure of mysteries in His Word, the depths of which we will never plumb. The devotion to the Holy Infant, or the Santo Niño as He is known in the Philippines and Hispanic countries, is a case in point.

The Filipino devotion to the Santo Niño revolves around a statue of the Holy Infant that was originally designed by Flemish artisans based on a vision by the 16th century Spanish mystic, St. Teresa of Avila. It was brought to the Philippine island of Cebu in 1521 by the explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, and is the oldest surviving Catholic relic in the Philippines. On April 14, 1521, Magellan presented Rajah Humabon, the ruler of Cebu, with the image of the Santo Niño and two other objects of religious devotion as a baptismal gift. Magellan died on April 27, 1521 in the Battle of Mactan. The next Spanish expedition arrived on April 27, 1565 led by Miguel López de Legazpi. His attempts at peaceful colonization were rejected, and so he opened fire on the coastal town that also bears the name Cebu. The town of Cebu was thus burnt down, and in its ruins was found the image of the Santo Niño in a pine box. The statue’s survival was seen as a miracle, and ever since it has been believed to have miraculous powers. A church to house the Santo Niño was built on the spot where the image was found. It was later reconstructed, and Pope Paul VI elevated it to the status of Minor Basilica on its 400th anniversary in April 28, 1965, during which he issued a papal bull for the Canonical Coronation of the statue.

I mention the Santo Niño because of how the Holy Infant reflects the Filipino character in a special way, as well as Jesus’ own saying: “Unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 18:3).” We Filipinos are generally a very concrete people, not usually given to theological abstraction. Widespread poverty has kept life at a very basic level for the vast majority of my compatriots. Our simple, childlike approach to faith has, despite its lack of sophistication, preserved the Catholic religion in the Philippines for almost five centuries in the face of a very difficult history filled with suffering.

One of those difficult periods of Filipino history was the Marcos dictatorship from 1972 to 1986, during which martial law was declared and many political prisoners were detained and even tortured. Among these political prisoners was my own father, who was eventually released a few months before the People Power Revolution at the request of Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila. There was a strange history behind this release, which began around 1983, when a certain image of the Santo Niño in a Manila suburb began to miraculously drip water. A visionary who chanced upon the image one day saw Mother Mary and Jesus, the latter allegedly a young boy with a Prince Valiant haircut and flip-flops typically worn by the poor who could not afford shoes. The boy Jesus spoke in Taglish, the pidgin English used by most Filipinos. Among other things, he prophesied that my father would eventually be released from prison, despite the fact that the Marcos regime regarded him as one of the top threats to the government.

Let us fast forward to today’s dilemmas. The Philippines, like many third world countries, aspires to rapid economic development in order to alleviate massive poverty. But there is a steep price to be paid for such development due to the globalization of the culture of death. In exchange for a piece of the pie, so to speak, the Philippines has had to jettison its public adherence to Catholic morality in favor of birth control and other ills accompanying moral relativism. The Catholic Church in the Philippines has risked unpopularity by sticking to its guns in defense of the Faith, reminding everyone that it was Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them (Mt 19:14).” Devotion to the Santo Niño is one of the powerful means that the Church has in teaching the intrinsic worth of children, at a time when populations of developed countries are actually imploding, which may eventually lead to systematic euthanasia of the elderly due to the lack of workers to support them.

In the end, the Santo Niño teaches us that Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, may be gloriously reflected in a unique manner in every race and in every culture. Yet the Incarnation, the doctrine that God became a man, remains a universal truth that men and women everywhere must believe, if explicitly presented with the opportunity. It is not mercy to withhold this truth out of respect for an indigenous culture. Rather it is mercy to teach the ignorant the truths of the gospel in order that they may be saved and their very culture renewed and sanctified. It is likewise mercy to counsel the doubtful to hold on to the Faith for dear life, that they might not sell their souls for the mere trifle of living a few years longer. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Mt 16:25).” It was out of love for God and neighbor that the martyrs of Japan risked their lives to evangelize the Japanese people. And it was the greatest love that they demonstrated in laying down their lives in imitation of Jesus Himself, who said: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).”





« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 10:54:26 PM by Joe Carillo » Logged
Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2017, 09:36:01 AM »

Thanks, Joe, for adding the Japanese painting to my post. That was a nice touch!

Incidentally, I wanted to add a postscript to my reflection. When the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima that helped end the Pacific War in 1945, the hypocenter of the blast was the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, which miraculously resisted the effects of the bomb. Not only that, four Jesuits who occupied the rectory of the church at the time the bomb was dropped did not sustain any injuries other than minor cuts from broken glass. Neither did they come down with any expected illnesses from the atomic radiation. The story is documented at the following website:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/the-miracle-of-hiroshima-jesuits-survived-the-atomic-bomb-thanks-to-the-rosary-69261/ .

It is also rather ironic that the Japanese worshipped Amaterasu, the sun goddess, and that an artificial sun was dropped, not only on Hiroshima, but also on Nagasaki, the site of the seventeenth century persecutions of Catholics. The site at Hiroshima was marked by a Church dedicated to the Mother of God, whom the Apocalypse describes as clothed with the sun in Chapter 12.

A presentation I gave on Our Lady and the meaning of her Assumption and other spiritual privileges can be found on my website devoted to Catholic catechesis and adult education at www.logosensarkos.com. That site lists several books I have written on Scripture from a Catholic perspective. My scientific publications, on the other hand, can be found by checking out my LinkedIn or Researchgate websites, including an environmental science book that was just released by Elsevier last month, entitled "Atmospheric Impacts of the Oil and Gas Industry."
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 09:50:35 AM by Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer » Logged
Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2017, 10:02:07 AM »

Here is another website documenting the history of the Japanese persecutions and Nagasaki's role in it:
 
http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/08/nagasakis-hidden-christians-survive-persecution-and-the-atomic-bomb/ .
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